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The British government issued a directive to its ministries on Thursday asking them to avoid placing Chinese-linked security cameras at important locations due to security concerns.
The decision follows the recommendations of a government security review that was initiated after considering the recent cyber threats and the risks of increased connectivity.
Chinese cameras to be shut
“Departments have therefore been instructed to cease deployment of such equipment onto sensitive sites, where it is produced by companies subject to the National Intelligence Law of the People’s Republic of China,” said UK Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden in a written statement to the British parliament.
“Additionally, departments have been advised that no such equipment should be connected to departmental core networks and that they should consider whether they should remove and replace such equipment where it is deployed on sensitive sites rather than awaiting any scheduled upgrades. Departments have also been advised to consider whether there are sites outside the definition of sensitive sites to which they would wish to extend the same risk mitigation,” he added.
The review and the decision come hot on the heels of legislator demand for a ban on security cameras of Hikvision and Dahua, two partially state-owned Chinese companies. The legislators cited concerns about privacy and the possibility that the products of the companies may be connected to human rights abuses in China, while demanding the ban.
Chinese cyber controls, UK’s cyber defence
China in January announced that two new sets of regulations would increase oversight of how local tech companies operate their platforms both domestically and internationally. This gave the government literally unlimited control over the operations and information management of Chinese tech vendors.
UK, on the other hand, has been restricting Chinese telecom giant Huawei from offering 5G services in the country. The tussle has remained on cybersecurity news since 2019.
Although 5G the “potential to generate significant economic and social benefits” across the digital economy it brings risks as the national infrastructure “becomes more dependent on these networks and services”, said Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in a written statement to the parliament in October.
“To manage the risks to UK national security, the Government has issued a Designation Notice to Huawei and Designated Vendor Directions to 35 public telecommunications providers. The directions place restrictions on the use of Huawei goods and services by those telecommunications providers. This follows long-standing advice from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the Government on the use of Huawei equipment in UK public telecommunication networks,” the statement said.